Tirana, Albania – | 17 Feb 2022 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s Constitutional Court has acquitted President Ilir Meta of impeachment charges brought forward by the country’s Parliament last year.
The acquittal marks the end of a two year saga of clashes between Edi Rama’s ruling socialists and the country’s President Meta who had been accused by his former ally’s majority of serious constitutional violations.
In June 2021, the Albanian Parliament voted in favor of impeaching President Meta, on the grounds that he had interfered in the electoral process, endangered the rule of law and security of the country, clashed with diplomatic representatives of strategic allies of Albania and threatened the independence of constitutional institutions. As a result, the parliamentary investigative committee argued that the President had not represented the people’s unity and should be removed from office.
However, the Constitutional Court, which had a duty to evaluate the matter, has overturned the vote through a decision which is final and cannot be appealed.
“The facts brought forward as breaches of Articles 86, 88 and 94 of the Constitution, do not constitute serious breaches and therefore the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Albania has decided to repeal the Parliament’s decision No. 55/2021, of 09.06.2021 “For the impeachment of the President of the Republic of Albania for serious breaches of the Constitution” – read the top Court’s statement, following a 6-1 vote.
The President’s legal team had earlier argued that the investigative committee and subsequent vote in Parliament was illegal and anti-constitutional, with Mr. Meta declaring he would not recognize any activity of this “one-party” parliament and that he would stay in office until the end of term in July 2022.
The statements were made last year, following the relinquishing of mandates by opposition DP & LSI parliamentary groups and a series of clashes between Mr. Meta and his former coalition ally PM Edi Rama.
Mr. Meta who has served in the largely ceremonial position since 2017, thanks to Mr. Rama’s socialist votes, has since constantly criticized the government, blocked ministerial nominees and vetoed legislation.
A former socialist prime minister, he created his own party, the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) in 2004, which served in a governing coalition with the ruling socialists between 2013-2017.
Mr. Meta gets to end his mandate in July this year, to be replaced by a new candidate deriving from a selection process in the country’s parliament, due to start in April.
During a series of combative and controversial press conferences ahead of last year’s general elections, President Meta had thrown accusations against several diplomatic representatives in the country who allegedly had been financed by US based billionaire George Soros to help Rama’s socialists capture the justice system in Albania.
“I have a tough warning for them tonight, especially for the international mafia. They should be careful because Albania is not an experimental country“, said Meta during an interview for Syri TV in April 2021.
He later accused US Ambassador Yuri Kim that she had interfered in his justice appointments and that she had pressured him in favor of the political interests of PM Rama.
The US Embassy in Albania, was quick to react to the decision, praising the independence of the newly established top Court which has yet to fill up its vacant positions.
“The Constitutional Court of Albania, which became operational in December 2020, is demonstrating the ability to fulfill its primary and essential function by examining the facts and arguments presented by the relevant parties discussing these facts and arguments under the Constitution and making decisions that reflect independence and integrity”, read a statement by the US Embassy in Tirana, which is backing a controversial and lengthy reform of the small Balkan country’s justice system.
Decayed by endemic corruption, the small Balkan country approved a milestone reform of its justice system in 2016, following direct pressure and assistance from the US and the EU.
Albania, a NATO member hopes to start EU membership talks soon, which have been constantly delayed by the club’s members, reluctant to enlarge the union.
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